04.28.2012 12:00 AM

In today’s Sun (inexplicably): Him Campbell

Not sure why it’s out early, but it is. Linkage here:

Question: What does Kim Campbell have in common with Michael Ignatieff?

It’s a riddle, of sorts. The answer comes at the end. (And don’t cheat by looking!)

For starters, there are the obvious things. Both were leaders of political parties with a proud history — Campbell, the Progressive Conservatives, and Ignatieff the Liberals. Both were regarded as outsiders by the political establishment; thinkers, not hacks. Both weren’t professional politicians — and therefore initially considered their respective parties’ best candidate to recapture, or hold onto, power.

Oh, and both were academics. They were, you know, “intellectuals.”

Now, political parties get desperate, sometimes. When facing annihilation (as the Conservatives were in 1993 under Brian Mulroney), or when experiencing the indignity of being beaten by someone they saw as a lesser being (as the Liberals were in 2006 and 2008, by Stephen Harper), politicos will go looking for something BOLD! Something NEW! Something FRESH!


  1. Tiger says:

    Slightly surprised they printed that last line as-is!

  2. Brammer says:

    Fair enough. But, there were plenty of crazy Harper quotes floating around during the last few elections – how come they didn’t stick to him?


    • Bill says:

      A great many people don’t find these quotes crazy. The majority of the quotes are quite accurate and that is why people voted for him.

    • Tiger says:

      Arguably, they did stick to him. They helped deny him a victory in 2004. They contributed to him not winning a majority in 2006 and 2008.

      By 2011, he had a record in office, and so the quotes were old news. Even a 500-page dossier made barely a ripple.

      Also, what Bill said — many of them aren’t seen as “crazy”, but sensible.

    • The Doctor says:

      The other thing is, as we moved from election to election, Harper became more of a known entity and less of an unknown entity. As that happens, scare tactics (exploiting the fear of the unknown) naturally lose a good deal of their effectiveness.

      Campbell was new. Harper ceased to be new some time ago.

  3. Philippe says:

    Didn’t you also praise this guy when you worked for him?

    • Warren says:

      I did. I was wrong.

      • Michael says:

        You and me both mate. A lot of us were.

      • pomojen says:

        Or maybe you were right the first time. I seem to recall your gut said “no” and then he had lunch with you, talked the good talk… something like that.
        Never mistrust the gut.

        • Warren says:

          I never thought he was very impressive. But I liked the people around him – Ian, Jill, Mark, Alexis, Dawn, Paul, and of course Lisa etc. – a lot. THEY impressed me. I knew them, I didn’t know him. And they were all so loyal to him! When he threw them all overboard, and brought on a bunch of jerks, I said to Hell with it. Life’s too short, etc.

          • Michael says:

            I thought he’d learn the political craft a bit better than he did, and much quicker too. I guess I didn’t account for the ego…an ego, which caused him to do such stupid things as reject debate prep during the election.

  4. Tim Sullivan says:

    I never thought of Campbell as an intellectual. She was a lawyer, for one thing. Although she spoke Russian, she was otherwise not too accomplished academically. Did she have a doctorate?

    I’m not trying to be disparaging of her, although I recognized early on she was beatable. I had considered her a bit of a pseudo-intellectual. She may have had the goods, but not the stamina, intellectually.

    Politics has proven the Peter Principle with many good, accomplished people. John Tory was inept as a politician (and campaign organizer) although otherwise accomplished in business and law and philanthropy. Paul Martin was accomplished in business and as a finance minister. Campbell was her own worst enemy, maybe by being the smartest in the room (but inept at politics and had John Tory beside her). Iggy was very well accomplished in many fields. Sadly, not in politics.

    Harper, who had accomplished nothing, created nothing and never had a real job himself, seems adept at politics.

    Makes one go “humm” sometimes.

    • The Doctor says:

      I think John Tory was a significant cut above Kim Campbell, in that he had impressive administrative and executive experience, in leadership positions for several large, prominent organizations. I agree though that he lacked political skills — but he also inherited the helm of the Ontario PCs when it was a bit of a thankless job and a divided organization. He also came up against McGuinty when McGuinty was really finding his stride as a politician.

      • Tim Sullivan says:

        He also okayed that ad of Chretien with the facial problem. As I first saw that ad, I remember it was late one night after working on a local campaign all day, I knew we would win the election.

        When he became the leader of the Ontario PCs, I knew he would lose.

      • kenn2 says:

        I suspect that if Tory ever received the fully-committed support of the formidable right-wing campaign machine, he’d have been elected.

        He was kicked to the curb by the new right-wing establishment because he wasn’t a slavish adherent to the new regime. He seems (to me) to have this persistent streak of moderation, reasonableness and genuine social concern that is anathema to them.

        (Disclaimer – I met him 5 or 6 years back, and I liked what I saw/heard)

    • VC says:

      Actually, Kim Campbell does not have a doctorate.

  5. Just as Mitt Romney can’t connect with most Republicans and women voters, Ignatieff could never quite close the deal with Canadians. The attack ads were vicious but Ignatieff also expressed things in his own erudite way and a boundary gradually emerged between candidate and voters.

    It’s a little like ‘Christian rock and roll’ – there’s something missing in terms of authenticity.

    • Philippe says:

      I agree.

      I think that the second a Politician starts spouting what he/she believes people want to hear rather than what’s in their hearts – and stop being themselves is the danger zone. You could feel the awkwardness in Iggy because at heart he was a Starbucks loving, blue-collar adverse intellectual. A large segment of the population saw him for what he was. Not that he was a bad guy, just not the right guy.

      Chretien was the best I’ve ever seen at being straight with what he felt – and that resonated with people. I just hope there’s someone similar within our ranks that will emerge.

      • Jon Adams says:

        Precisely. What works in punditry and op-ed journalism does not translate to politics, viz. the 2012 Alberta provincial election.

      • The Doctor says:

        I’ll always remember one time when I saw Chretien spontaneously yukking it up with some ordinary folks on (what is now) the Stephen Avenue mall in Calgary. This was in the 80s I think, and Liberals were dead meat in Calgary at the time. But Chretien himself, people had no problem with him and it was obvious that he was charming the pants off of these Calgarians — even though they wouldn’t necessarily vote for him, they liked him and felt comfortable around him. The guy just had a natural folksiness and ease which people like Iggy, Kim Campbell et al. couldn’t ever have.

    • pomojen says:

      Best analogy ever. Totally like Christian rock.

  6. Dan says:

    Iggy’s BOLD NEW ideas were “empire lite” and “maybe torture”. Those ideas brought him international fame which only made the liberal intelligentsia wet themselves with excitement.

    (They failed to realize that the Blair, Bush, Wolfowitz fanclub didn’t have much of a Canadian chapter, even when they were at their most popular.)

    I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with having an intellectual or an academic as a leader. Barack Obama was a professor of constitutional law. He’s won elections. He’s implemented good ideas.

    Here’s the catch. When intellectuals exit the ivory tower, they can expect to be judged the same way that any other person at any other job is normally judged.


    What were the results of all that “empire lite” and “maybe torture” talk? Good results, or bad results? Who in the world thought those were good ideas, and who thought they were bad ones?

    Remember: for all the complaints about the Conservative attack ads, Iggy didn’t hemorrhage many votes to the conservative right. He was replaced by the progressive left.

  7. Marc says:

    The saddest part, of course, is that this country deserves to be run by an “intellectual” and not just some scheister who can convince the sheep of whatever he wants them to believe. And that isn’t the fault of the scheister… he’s just playing the game. The game involves millions of people who don’t have either the will or the ability to properly assess the situation and pick the candidates that best represent the Canada he or she wants. That is exacerbated by political parties that are so self-interested that there is no way another party could possibly have a good idea, and advertising, marketing, and straight-up lies that are perpetuated through the parrot media without any sort of analysis or examination.

    Politics and the media are turning the vulgar herd into the drooling herd, and no matter what party it is they are just trying to get the most droolers inside their fences. There are people, of course, probably many who comment here, that don’t fit into that description. We are in the minority, for sure, folks. That’s why someone who is genuine and able to think critically about more than just how to crush the other parties or rig the game so nobody else can win – but can be wrong and can acknowledge that – is needed. Sadly the ability to be wrong just isn’t permitted in politics now. Even when someone is wrong, reality is shifted to accommodate it instead of the politician being held accountable.

    Interestingly, politics and academics are both separated from ethics and morals… the former is aimed at convincing people of a lie while the latter is aimed at convincing people of the truth. The truth is much more hard to believe, of course, giving the academic a harder job by far. That probably explains why they don’t tend to succeed in politics without first abandoning all of their respect for the electorate in order to convince them of the lie.

    • Dan says:

      If the role of the academic is to convince people of the truth, Iggy wasn’t cut out for academics either.

      He hitched his academic star to the post-9/11 hyper-security hysteria. It was a quick burst of fame, and then the chickens came home to roost.

  8. Joey Rapaport says:

    Saw Kim Campbell on Bill Maher, what a joke, former PM!!!!

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